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Day: April 8, 2014

MHS grad’s short film will take you to an ‘alien planet’ a day trip away

Director Zeek Earl (center) on location in the Hoh Rain Forest with some of his cast and crew during filming of his new sci-fi short, Prospect. (Submitted)
Director Zeek Earl (center) on location in the Hoh Rain Forest with some of his cast and crew during filming of his new sci-fi short, Prospect. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School graduate Zeek Earl debuted his latest short film, Prospect, at the South by Southwest in early March.

The full film, the tale of a daughter and father searching for rare material on a toxic planet with hope of striking it rich, is now available for viewing at To watch, visit Earl launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that gave him the budget and additional volunteers to bring the whole thing to fruition.

We sent Earl a few questions asking what went into the production of Prospect, and how he feels about the final product.

Keizertimes: How did you find your actors?

Zeek Earl: Tony Doupe (who plays the father) is a well known Seattle actor; we offered him the part directly. Callie (Harlow), the daughter, I found by going to a play put on by a youth theater company and we asked her to audition.

KT: When we spoke about the Kickstarter campaign you mentioned that you were growing some of the film’s stars in you garage. What species were the bugs you used for filming and how did you select them?

ZE: Milkweed bugs. They are one of the few insects it’s legal to ship across state lines. We ordered them from an education science supply. I liked the color and we needed something that was dependable in terms of supply.

KT: How long did you spend building the spacesuits?

ZE: The space suits were constructed in phases. We first had a seamstress make the base and then we turned them over to the production designers to add detail and texture. The bandit suit in particular was worked on pretty consistently over five months. The whole thing was a learning process; everyone half knew what they were doing and we spent a lot of time figuring things out.

KT: How did you select the Hoh Rainforest as the filming location?

ZE: It feels very alien to me. The magnitude of the moss and ferns there is not something you see in a typical northwest forest. We don’t have many rain forests up here in general. I love the feel of it.

KT: Was there anything about the site that inspired moments of the film?

ZE: The location determined a lot about the film.  All of the action sequences were carefully planned around the exact foliage and trees in certain areas. The lighting was completely natural; we didn’t even bring in any reflectors or shades. We shaped all the scenes around the time of day and the shadows of certain trees.

KT: Was there anything in the final product that exceeded the expectations you had before getting behind the camera? How did it unfold?

ZE: When you put so much effort into a little film like this, you’re just happy when it works at any level. At a certain point during production any expectations we had for how things were quickly abolished on set as we adjusted to the particular circumstances of whatever was going on. On a film set, you’re adapting constantly and a lot big creative decisions are made on the fly. I’m just happy it worked – and I have a million new experiences to build on for next time.

GGNA prioritizes list of park improvements

Park improvements were talked about at the March 20 Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meeting. (Submitted)
Park improvements were talked about at the March 20 Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meeting. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

The way Roland Herrera sees it, perhaps the meeting could spur other such meetings.

On March 20 the newest member of both the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association (GGNA) and the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board led a discussion on parks in the Gubser area during the monthly GGNA meeting.

In light of the Parks Board’s recent decision to turn its annual allocated money – which has been around $20,000 a year in recent years – into a matching grant program, the GGNA meeting was turned into a workshop in which residents talked about what improvements should be made at parks within the GGNA boundaries.

“We had maps of all the parks,” Herrera said. “About 80 percent of the ideas were park improvements. We came up with a list for each park. We gave everybody one minute to explain their view.”

While Herrera led the discussion, Parks Board chair Brandon Smith talked about the matching grant program. As part of the program, Parks Board members will match funds or equipment citizens are willing to put towards a project.

Public Works Director Bill Lawyer also helped explain the program, while Parks Board member Richard Walsh was in attendance as well.

The three main parks talked about at the meeting were Bob Newton, Country Glen and Hidden Creek Parks, with a mention also of Northridge Park.

“It was very efficient,” Herrera said of the process. “We ended up with a lot of positive input. Some of it will work for the matching grant program. Everyone made a statement about parks. Everybody talked about distributing money equally to all the parks. I’ve always felt the whole package has to be looked at. We want not only our parks in that area (addressed), we also had a discussion about how we could help the other parks in Keizer.”

In addition to getting a minute to speak, everyone in attendance got stickers to put by the most needed improvements for each park.

Prior to that, ideas for improvements at each park were written on large sheets of paper, which were taped to the walls at Gubser Elementary School.

“Everyone went up there,” Herrera said. “Everyone thought it was cool. I’m glad I’m part of this thing. Now we have a whole bunch of people cooperating. I want to use this as a model for the other areas of town.”

At Bob Newton Park, installing trees around play equipment got the most stickers (12). Other top ideas were logs and safety issues (eight stickers), boulders on Mandarin Way (seven) and playground structure bolts (seven). Four other ideas got six stickers each.

For Country Glen Park, swings got the most stickers (eight), followed by lighting on the path and half-court basketball with four stickers each.

Removing invasive material was the most popular idea at Hidden Creek Park with eight stickers, followed by dog bags/garbage cans (seven) and more trees (seven).

The one idea brought up for Northridge Park was developing access and path.

“I hope other areas see this as a model and move forward this way,” Herrera said. “I’d be willing to help them. That’s my wish, that people in other areas see this and say, ‘I want to do this.’ They can go to the Parks Board and I hope we can help them. We’re making this happen.”

Herrera feels there are no better people to ask about park improvements than the neighbors who use those parks.

“Everyone knows the park they go to,” he said. “I know we can do better and move things a notch up. We have a neighborhood association in Gubser with members who are proactive.”